“Single-Parent” Homes, “Latchkey” Kids….

2 Sep

This is a growing concern for most people in the world today. There are more and more single-parent homes than there ever was bfore. Since the 70s, when divorce was officially accepted by people, children have had to take on more responsibilities in the home, dealing with the absence of the parent that once took on some of the load. Where mommy used to cook and clean in the home, children are left to cook for themselves or make their own afternoon snacks, take on more chores, and take phone calls and important messages for parents. Some are even expected to do the grocery shopping. Sometimes, if there is only the father and no mother around, the oldest daughter is left to care for the younger daughter, brushing her hair and picking out and buying clothes. With single women, most times the son cuts the lawn at a younger age, learns a few domestic skills, and protects younger siblings.

In many ways single-parent households can be good for children, depending on the child. It teaches independence, responsibility, and instills hard work in children. Most children who come from single-parent homes tend to not act as spoiled and don’t fall a part during small issues, such as having to work for the first time. Contrary to what most people believe, single-parent homes don’t always have negative effects on children. Sure, they might have to grow up quicker, but it causes children to mature and to look at the world in a realistic way.

Of course, there are negative effects, depending on the child. Some children take the extra responsibility differently. Some children use the little “freedom” they usually have after school, while a parent is at work, to their advantage. At that point, we get situations such as this one:

8 Year Old Boy Accidentally Shot

Also, family.jrank.org states other negative effects single-parent homes can have on kids. More aggression, tension in the household, lower grades in school, less sleep, higher stress levels, psychological disadvantages, and many other issues.

Single Parent Families Effect on Children

Of course, when I was growing up, I lived in a single-parent home. I was a latchkey kid as young as 9 years old. I made my own lunch when I got in from school, and learned how to boil a hot dog and at least make cheesburgers and soup on the stove. My mom didn’t make breakfast every morning, as she was rushing out the door, so I made my own breakfast. I was responsible for doing my homework after school, and when my mother got home she expected at least some of it done so she could check the progress. During father-daughter days at school, sure, I would feel left out, but I had other male figures in my life, like my uncles who took on good supporting roles for me. My mother was always stressed, so I tried not to bother her, and often times, I wouldn’t tell her about my problems or if I had issues. I would keep them to myself or try to solve it, which was bad. My stress level was high. I lived in a big house and had to clean the whole house. It was hard, but I did it. The kitchen had to be clean everyday by the time my mother got home. Bathroom had to be clean, too. Most of the time, me and my sis had the house to ourselves, and we were responsible for ourselves during that time. Answering the phone was crucial. My mother would panic if we didn’t.

So I understand how different it is to live in single-parent homes. If one parent isn’t as patient or understanding, it’s a good thing to have two. At least one could be good for communicating feelings. I would sometimes look at children with two parents and long for a father, but from my growing-up experience,  I’ve learned we always have to make do with what we have, and learn from our different experiences.


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